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How To Use A Library To Enhance The Community

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I'm part of an initiative to improve/enhance a large library, and struggling to generate ideas. I was hoping you intelligent/creative folk could help out!

There isn't a problem with the library, but it is a big expensive building which could surely be used to enhance the local services/generate revenue/save money

Demolition/removal of books is not an option, but repurposing a designated area could be. Also using a space at quiet times by moving book shelves on wheels out of the way would be possible.

Its hard to break the mould of traditional library type ideas ..... I really want RADICAL not "coffee mornings:

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My local library has turned the children's section into a creche of sorts. They have tiny seats and tables for the kids. Mums seem to collect them several times per week, perhaps daily, and do things with the kids. Have group reading lessons for toddlers, women gas with one another.

It is both very good but also very annoying if you are sat nearby one a PC or trying to read something. But I suppose it is good as it si getting more people into the library, especially youngsters, and also I suppose it helps those familes who cannot afford pre-school whatever they are called places.

You could also consider having it as a place for local Am Dram to do rehearshals if you have the room.

Or simply provide a kettle and tea/coffee making facilities so that women can hold book clubs.

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Ask the people who don't use it what would make them use it.

Ours is usually very busy. Computers booked up, kids doing homework. Teenagers being noisy is a bit of a nuisance - we have a writing group once a month and again this month we couldn't hear ourselves speak.
They also host a reading group, kids stuff during the holidays.
They do CAB sessions, advice surgerys.

I think there's a bridge club but that meets upstairs in the town hall bit. I think a scrabble club would be good but that might just be me. :)



Look at that glass and steel thing they stuck on it!
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@53.5106729,-2.1581359,3a,75y,211.83h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sf-rMN9MyuYNIHU98j4ooag!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

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Hobby workshops, get in a few extra books to suit courses/hobby days. Ideally you want a separate room though, as above any noisy activity does not suit a library at all.

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Geocaching - organise a geocaching group locally and get them to meet at the library. I think libraries need to turn into places like 'Central Perk' in Friends. People want to drink coffee all the time so libraries need to sell good coffee for a fraction of the price. I know - health and ruddy safety.

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Geocaching - organise a geocaching group locally and get them to meet at the library. I think libraries need to turn into places like 'Central Perk' in Friends. People want to drink coffee all the time so libraries need to sell good coffee for a fraction of the price. I know - health and ruddy safety.

Ours has a cafe in the basement. It can only be open during library hours. Which means they miss the breakfast rush which I imagine is a chunk of good turnover. The lease cost didn't make any sense - I looked at it with a friend.

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Ours has a cafe in the basement. It can only be open during library hours. Which means they miss the breakfast rush which I imagine is a chunk of good turnover. The lease cost didn't make any sense - I looked at it with a friend.

Yep, that is the problem - stupid rules and regs. In one of my local libraries they have 3 staff who basically seem incapable of not all taking lunch together. So the library opens at 10 and closes at 1. Lunch is 1 till 2.30 and then it is closed by 5 in the afternoon. But the staff are worried that they will be closed down.

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Yep, that is the problem - stupid rules and regs. In one of my local libraries they have 3 staff who basically seem incapable of not all taking lunch together. So the library opens at 10 and closes at 1. Lunch is 1 till 2.30 and then it is closed by 5 in the afternoon. But the staff are worried that they will be closed down.

MondayMon 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM

ThursdayThu 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM

FridayFri 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

SaturdaySat 9:30 AM – 1:00 PM

SundaySun Closed

Ours is open reasonably long times I spose. compared to one that shuts for lunch.

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MondayMon 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM

ThursdayThu 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM

FridayFri 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

SaturdaySat 9:30 AM – 1:00 PM

SundaySun Closed

Ours is open reasonably long times I spose. compared to one that shuts for lunch.

The libraries in Swansea all have different opening times even though they might be just a few miles apart. Some close on certain week days whilst others are open 7 days a week. It is bizarre.

They are also places where we can pick up our recycling bags - some librarians will hand you a load out. Others seem to think that they are handed out precious jewels and will offer you one bag. I just stand there and say "What am I supposed to do with that?".

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Cafe already suggested. You could add Museum or Gallery if applicable to the location.

Else, are you allowed/expected to make this commercial? If not, then an area that can serve as a community facility and be hired out ad-hoc to groups with a use for it, with provisos like nothing too noisy or intimidating during designated library hours. If yes then you have the option to add commercial hire and business facilities, and perhaps keep a list of local businesses offering support services like catering, logistics, and secretarial.

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I think what most people want their library to be is...a library! Hope that is radical enough.

A selection of books, magazines & newspapers on shelves, an area with chairs & tables, and above all a silent atmosphere where you can concentrate on what you are reading.

An oasis of tranquility & calm - far from the madding crowd and the world outside.

No cafes, creches or workshops. No computers with kids messing about using them to download the latest rap tune. Nothing but books.

I'm not being selective - anybody is welcome, even tramps who may smell a bit are welcome so long as they obey the only rule. Please be quiet. And turn that phone off you ignorant prat!

Sadly, some of our libraries have been 'dumbed down' like a lot of things in the chase for popularity.

People don't visit them anymore in the search for knowledge.

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Ours recently replaced coffee machine producing drinkable coffee for ~30c with a small cafe producing undrinkable coffee for > €1. It seems quite popular wih other users though. The buns look quite nice.

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People don't visit them anymore in the search for knowledge.

In the days of L-space, the primary purpose of libraries as we[1] knew them has become obsolete. Just as Gutenberg obsoleted teams of monks.

[1] At least those of us who aren't antiquarians in search of original manuscripts and the like.

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Sarahbell - thanks for the link to Failsworth library. Memories of my childhood. In fact all my family came from within half a mile.

We used to go to brass band practice every Friday evening, round the back - a long time ago, just about where the new extension is now. I recall it was a Carnegie sponsored library,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnegie_library, and the building also contained the Town Hall.

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451 Fahrenheit. :unsure: I used to use the library a lot as a kid. Are they past their Victorian sell-by date, now we all have computers?

If I want a book, it comes from the internet. When I need it no more, it goes to the charity shop. They have more books than libraries have.

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Precisely why they need to re-think the library as a community 'space' rather than giving out moth eared books that no-one wants. If a library is about "education and fulfilment to help achieve a flourishing life" then that broadens the idea spectrum that is appropriate to that space.

"Community spaces" might take up space where more flats can be built. There is no planning for them, but even Milton Keynes has a library. Would a new "development"?

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I'm part of an initiative to improve/enhance a large library, and struggling to generate ideas. I was hoping you intelligent/creative folk could help out!

There isn't a problem with the library, but it is a big expensive building which could surely be used to enhance the local services/generate revenue/save money

Demolition/removal of books is not an option, but repurposing a designated area could be. Also using a space at quiet times by moving book shelves on wheels out of the way would be possible.

Its hard to break the mould of traditional library type ideas ..... I really want RADICAL not "coffee mornings:

What is your budget ?

Taking down fixed shelves and replacing with rolling stacks will cost a bit, but will free up space. Lottery grant perhaps ?

With the increase in electronic media so that you can get a modern book from anywhere, I think it is old books not available in electronic form that will become more interesting and wanted. Maybe make more of a section focused on old books and tailor it to the local interests.

If you can create some space, how about a very good media suite for video conferencing with free basic facilities, and other add-ons that can be booked by the public for a fee.

Likewise a lecture theatre, and have a good programme with at least one regular talk a week. With the caveat that I don't know your catchment, or what else is available in the area that is providing similar.

As you have identified, it's footfall and people turnover that you need.

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One thing it must have is a toilet plus toilet paper......also a kitchen with a sink and a kettle, what type of kettle is another pressing question there must be an answer to...in one end out the other.;)

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I remember when Sutton Library went up. It was the flagship project of the council at the time. Extremely far sighted I thought. Huge for such a meagre town. A lot of ideas such as homework clubs, teenager hangouts would be worth copying. A canteen even.

EDIT: Ooh look, there's a website about designing libraries...

http://database.designinglibraries.org.uk/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=3995

I must have "used" Sutton Library, as a kid. I wanted books our local library didn't have, so they had to import them for me. I'm probably on a "list" somewhere. :blink:

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